Recent polls have indicated that with less than a week to go in the election for president of the Dominican Republic the race is up for grabs between official party candidate Danilo Medina and ex-president Hipólito Mejía.
According to the results of two recently released polls Medina would be the victor in this Sunday’s elections though by differing margins. One poll conducted in late April of over 1500 eligible voters by Spanish firm Sigma Dos Group found that Medina would win by 7.1%. The results, which were released today, concluded that Medina would win since the survey’s margin of error was only 2.5%.
Meanwhile, another poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and published in Diario Libre gave Medina a slim 51-46 advantage over Mejía though they also found that as much as ten percent of the electorate could change their vote. Hence, this survey indicated that both candidates would have to faceoff in a head-to-head second round.
Despite those results a third poll conducted by The Campol Group gave Mejía the edge by a five-point margin (50-45) ahead of Medina.
With such a high uncertainty over who would win and the possibility of election heading to a runoff, the race for the presidency could be decided by the estimated 5.0% of the electorate residing in the U.S. Hence, both Medina and Mejía have traveled abroad to attract voters though the latter’s visit to New York was marred when he said that U.S. President Barack Obama “came from Africa.”
Furthermore, other factors that could push Dominican expat voters to the polls is that they don’t have to travel to Santo Domingo to vote and they will also be choosing legislators for the Dominican Congress.
As blogger James Bosworth recently observed, Dominican voters abroad this Sunday could have an impact on upcoming elections in countries like Mexico and Venezuela:
A number of Latin American countries have created absentee voting systems to allow their expat communities to vote in national elections. Up through now, it has never been the decisive factor in an election.Video Source – YouTube via VideosJCE (2011 PSA by the Dominican Republic’s electoral commission urging expats to register to vote).
If May's Dominican election or any other future election is decided by voters abroad, or even if it's close enough to make it a question, what happens next in the region? Could any country backtrack on the voting abroad rules they have created? Is it actually fair for a portion of the population who live outside the country to overturn what would otherwise be the majority result by the domestic population? Those are all fun questions to consider as the DR race comes down to the wire.
Online Sources – lainformacion.com, Dominican Today, Observatorio Politico Dominicano, Fox News Latino, Christian Science Monitor